Saturday, August 08, 2009

Adventures in Travel, Part 4: Amazing Translations, and Opa's Boo-boo

When you have a degree in Linguistics, the world doesn't necessarily beat a path to your door with offers of big-money jobs. The upside is that there are many things you find well-meaning attempts by speakers of foreign languages to helpfully translate things into English for you.

One of the best actually dates back to when I was living in Berlin in the early 80's, and one of the restaurants I often visited was a Balkan place called Ujak Tom ("Uncle Tom's"), which offered an unusually large number of howlers in the English version of its menu. My favorite was the Zigeunerspiess, which consisted of large chunks of meat and vegetables cooked on a skewer and served on rice with a very spicy sauce. In German, Zigeuner means "gypsy" and Spiess means "skewer" or "spear"...hence, the Zigeunerspiess was a gypsy-style shish-kebab. Unfortunately, another word for skewer in English is "spit," and - you guessed it - whoever compiled the English version of the menu translated Zigeunerspiess as Gypsy Spit. I always had an unfortunate mental image of a big, swarthy, mustachioed fellow hawking a loogie onto my plate.

I told you that story in order to share a few adventures in linguistic horror selected from the English version of our Holiday Inn guest services directory. I offer them as written, without editing...

"Cleaning. Please give your clothes to 8:00 AM to the reception (Monday to Friday). The purified laundering them, by express cleaning, on the same evening at the reception."

"Internet Access. We offer in the lobby bar a W-Lan access. Our rooms are opposed to a fee with a high-speed wireless Internet connection for you."

"Pets. The deadweight of domestic animals is allowed after notification, they must be clean, quiet and does not represent a danger for our other guests or employees dar. We ask for your understanding, which we will pollution caused by your pet into account."

I should note that each of these is a perfectly logical direct translation from German to English. I wonder if I could get a discount on our room by offering to fix things up for them...?

One of the things we used to keep Leya occupied today was the provision of Band-Aids for her boo-boos (real and imagined) and those of her doll. The Band-Aids didn't always stay where originally placed, though. One went from her hand to various points on her doll to ... well ... Opa ...

Agnes says it will take more than a small Band-Aid to fix what's wrong with my head.

Today, sadly, was the last day Yasmin, Vin, and Leya will be with us...tomorrow they're moving on to visit a few other places in Germany before heading home. They said their good-byes to Uroma (Great-Grandma) and Uropa (Great Grandpa) this evening. Uropa got a nice handshake...

...while Uroma got a hug and a kiss...

And we did, of course, manage to get the obligatory Four Generations Photo of Agnes's family yesterday ...

We'll be here until Tuesday, when we depart at an ungodly hour to head back to Frankfurt to catch our flight home. What this means is that I will try to post two more times to share our adventures with you before we head home.

And if it keeps raining like it started to this afternoon, it could be more often. Stay tuned.

Have a good day. More thoughts tomorrow.



Mike said...

"offering to fix"

I was thinking that right before I read it. You could make a few bucks while your over there.

fiona said...

Funny and poignant...LOVE the photos!
Thank you for sharing darlin ;0)

Gilahi said...

There used to be a small shop in Helen, GA, called the "Gift Haus", which told me that the owners knew enough German to make "house" into "haus", but not enough German to understand that the German word "gift" translates to "poison".

Amanda said...

Those were funny!!!! Thanks for sharing.

Leya's great grand mother looks so fit and healthy. She can still lift Leya for a big cuddle!

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